How I found this book: I don't know - one too many people on the blogworld talking about it? So I stuck it on the holdlist. I'm not quite sure why, to tell you the truth! But I'm ever so glad I did.
Book, in a nutshell:
Saba is relentlessly loyal to her twin brother Lugh. So when raiders take him, for reasons unknown to her at the time, and leave her father dead behind them, she goes off after him - along with her much younger sister Emmi. Her attempts to rid herself of the inconvenient Emmi fail, and her search for Lugh goes hardly better. After she ends up in the cage-fighting ring in Hopetown, she finds information about Lugh's captors - and a band of girls who might be able to save both her and him.
But there's more than a brother at stake in this wind-swept world.
I loved this book. It's a first-person narration, in dialect, without quotation marks - could have been a deal-breaker, but no - I actually liked it. Though the um, informal narration was a bit confusing at times. (If you thought that Katniss's narration in Hunger Games was annoying at all, don't even try this one.)
I love the way Saba's going after Lugh - I have got a brother, and I know what she means with the whole business. I love the developing relationship between her and her little sister, as they grow to understand each other better. I love that the little sister is a very good character in her own right - she does at least as much growing in this story as anyone else.
Most of all, unlike so many of the dystopian and post-apocolyptic books these days, this one's got hope. The world's messed up, but there are solutions, and people are effective to find them.
There is no such word as can't for this lot. Recapture kidnapped brother? Worth a try. Find your way across the desert? Why not. Dash into a burning building to save a friend? Let's go. Fight blind clawed lizards at night in a dry lakebed? Go for it. Escape from bondage in the cage fighting? Sounds likely to me. Find a new way on the spur of the moment when everything goes wrong? Can do. Change the shape of society? Might as well.
And, though the whole "magic-stone" thing is a little blatantly obvious - just a little - I approve of the obligatory love interest. For once, I actually can figure out what the protagonist sees in him!
Age rec: Unfortunately, there is a lot of strong language. A lot. And though there's nothing actually indecent, some hints. I might as well reassure readers, though - there wasn't anything that happened that offended me, so I'll save you the worries you might have at some points. It's not as "nice" as Chime but much "nicer" than Finnikin of the Rock: I would say fourteen, fifteen and up.